Friday, October 19, 2007

Technische Universit├Ąt Darmstadt

More on that amazing house below

Check it out... seriously. True human innovation

Comment about a comment

How happy was I when I found comments to moderate! Thanks for the feedback; I'd like to address one quick thing:

kudos on the the recycling dedication! why not bring it up to your apartment manager? or start your own recycling center in your storage space for the neighbors!

What a great idea! The whole apartment complex should have a central repository for recyclables!

The sarcasm you aren't detecting is directed at my landlord who told me that we used to have a recycling bin but that it was "abused" and taken away. (...) ok

As for the Josh Recycling Aggregation... I have been considering it in a big way. I even talked to a few of the residents and they were down for it. Thanks for reminding me to figure something out.

And the quest moves forward...

Off-topic but...

... I think I've found a co-passion in green building.

Look at this now please

I don't want to write too much about it but the link leads to Inhabitat, the green design blog that I have been following recently. This set of pictures is from the Solar Decathalon in Washington DC. It was an international competition to build off-grid (i.e. no need for a power company), solar-powered house. The results were incredible and totally beautiful. Especially this one from Germany:

On your right you see what is called "passive technology," stuff that does something by doing nothing (read about the Daoist tenant of wu wei). They are shutters that are operated electronically and enclose the whole house. They are also far enough away from the house that you are left with this very cool mini patio and enough space for the heat to dissipate. Not letting good energy go to waste, each of the slats on the shudders is a mini solar panel... a little "active technology" on the side. Just amazing and visually very interesting. Follow the first link to see a little more. The Cincinnati house is also worth seeing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


...this guy nails it:

One argument which I have found surprisingly absent is the apocalyptic version of Pascal’s wager: if there is a genuine strong change, we should move swiftly to combat it, and if there isn’t, swift movement to cut carbons would not be so bad (it could spur innovation, etc.). If you think the evidence is unclear, that’s not an argument to do nothing unless the evidence will become clearer soon — which it won’t. As such, your view is still an argument for doing something now because the cost of a false alarm is small and the cost of a missed threat is large. Big reforms are like an insurance policy: you pay insurance for peace of mind, but you also hope your money is wasted, and there is a small irreversibility from having sacrificed up front.

Voluntary demand-side reduction at a large international scale won’t work. Besides the problem of free-riding, people (and countries) who are helpfully cutting back get annoyed when others aren’t. You see this clearly in lab experiments on contribution to public goods in “commons dilemmas” — people help out at first, then get mad that others aren’t helping, and express their anger by not helping. One useful tool is a serious carbon tax (choose your favorite number, double it, hope for something in between, and find a politically popular way to earmark some of the revenue to R&D that won’t be supplied privately).

Even better is an international permit trading system (and yes, it should be international, since local systems won’t equalize the cost across countries). Get past the moral indignation of issuing licenses to pollute. Firms and governments that will pollute will do so whether you like it or not, but at least a trading system rewards the good guys. Trade-able permits also put a sharp price on the value of reducing carbon, which is a good way to monetize the valuation of carbon-reducing technology, and hence to make the value of innovation clear and encourage it.

Individuals? If you feel great about reducing your own carbon footprint, please do. But unless you are a symbolic individual whose behavior influences others through a newsy social process — thanks, Brad Pitt — yours is a small contribution. Do that, but also read the news, educate your neighbors, crusade, organize, and vote.

A fantastic post if you have the time to read it all. Read the comments at the end too, just for the hell of it. If you thought the issue was simple, think again.


This is the feeling that stems from believing that there is nothing you can do to change the situation. This is what makes you freeze up, makes you avoid it all, makes you give up. If hope is all we really have in this world, the lack thereof is a dark, desolate place.

Sorry for the particularly emo spin on this blog entry but it pertains, don't worry.

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine who told me that he was really bummed out that it seemed like people just don't care about the earth and don't think about what they are doing to their surroundings. This struck me as funny because this is not what I expected to hear coming from him. There are two things I derived from this conversation:

-> People who don't usually think about their impact are now doing just that. Sweet!

-> As soon as they ascertain the way things are, they're bummed. Damn!

People should get involved now but will they be lost when they understand what needs to be done? Will we lose potentials because this little climate/energy problem appears insurmountable?

All it takes is a little bit then a little more and a little more. It's not building a hydrogen infrastructure overnight or tossing our gasoline cars in a landfill. Fatalistic hopelessness comes from thinking like that. "CHANGE NOW OR DIE" is scary; it doesn't have to be like that. Plus, we just don't have all the information we need to make a change in the right direction. To try and act completely in one direction would be foolish.

What it takes right now is reconsidering your waste, rethinking how you do things. It takes voting with your money. It takes solution-mindedness, considering what your actions impact. Slow down a bit on the freeway, recycle stuff, turn lights off.. why not?!

We should all be considering the reactions of our actions anyways, don't ya think?